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Christchurch theatre yet to decide the future for artefacts

Azriel Taylor
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Dig for the artefacts underway  Alana Kelly (supplied)

Artefacts were discovered at the new Court Theatre site, now the company will decide where its future lies.

The new site for the Court Theatre on the corner of Colombo and Gloucester streets was found to be home to artefacts that tell a story of Canterbury's history.

Alana Kelly, an archaeologist from Underground Overground Archaeology says the area used to be the equivalent of a shopping centre around the mid 1800s when most of the items date back to.

The material they have recovered relates to certain businesses and can paint a picture of the early Christchurch CBD.

“I'd say because we know it's quite early material it's really important in understanding the early development of Canterbury and particularly Christchurch’s CBD. What we know from historical research is that strip along Colombo St was quite the shopping centre back in the day." 

It didn't take long for the team to find items with Alana saying that straight away they were hitting rubbish pits, and archaeological features.

The items uncovered so far are being washed, analyzed and logged for information, but the future of the items will be decided by the Court Theatre, as they are responsible for the artefacts. 

“In New Zealand, if you have artefacts of European origin they belong to the landowner.”

According to the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014, and the authority given already, the Court Theatre has the right to do what they wish with the artefacts, because they are all of European origin.

However when asked where the future lies for the artefacts, Court Theatre Chief Executive Barbara George says they haven't considered their future yet. 

There is still time to think though, because works at the site aren't completely done, and there are likely more items to be uncovered. 

“In terms of how long it will take us to finish washing and analyzing the artefacts and then writing up the report, it will take a few months. We will be tackling it as best we can pretty soon but we also have works that are still to happen at the site," Kelly says.